Summary: Part 9 of a 13 week series Hearing Jesus Again. This message looks at the barriers that will stand between us and God which are reputation and wealth.
Jesus On the Barriers of Reputation and Wealth
Part 9 in series Hearing Jesus Again
Wildwind Community Church
July 12, 2008
We enter a new phase in our Sermon on the Mount series today. So far we have looked at the answers to two huge questions that we all deal with in life. The first is the question, “Who is well off.” The second is “Who is a good person?” Well, the person who is well off is the person who roots themselves in a God-shaped, God-saturated view of the world and lives in constant communion with God. Who is a good person? The genuinely good person is the person who, from the deepest part of their being, is committed to promoting the good of every person they deal with – this includes the good of God, and the good of themselves. People who have placed their confidence in Jesus and are cultivating good hearts become, as I said last week, part of God’s divine conspiracy to undermine the structures of evil that exist everywhere in our world. That’s the work God is up to even now. In our short-sightedness we often think we’re going to help God move things along by taking up weapons or dropping bombs, but that’s not how God works. God didn’t work that way in the middle ages when the church took up arms against the Muslims, and God doesn’t work that way today. God works by first changing one human heart and then enlisting that person to live the same way in the world that Jesus lived so the next heart is changed. And the next, and the next, and the next. Living the way Jesus lived: My friends, hearing that ought to make you swallow hard. It ought to give you chills. It ought to cause you to re-evaluate your life and your priorities. And your politics. To think hard about whether your views and your life are built solidly on the example of Jesus or simply on the platform of this party or that. If Jesus made the money you make, how would he spend it? If Jesus lived in the house you lived in, how many TV’s would he have in it, and how much would he pay every month for television? Would Jesus have HBO or Cinemax or a DVR? If Jesus had to drive as far to work as you do, what kind of a car would he drive? If Jesus had kids to raise, how would he raise them? What would Jesus watch on YouTube? What jokes would Jesus think were funny and what would break his heart? When his heart was broken by a joke someone else told, how would he express that? If Jesus was married to your spouse, how would Jesus treat them? If Jesus went to the grocery store, what do you think he’d buy and what would he pass on? How many iPods would Jesus have. One? Two? None? If a military recruiter called your house and asked for Jesus and tried to recruit Jesus into the army, what do you think Jesus would say? Global warming or not, how would Jesus treat the earth he made? If Jesus had your mouth and your lips, what words would come out of them? If he had your mind, what thoughts would he let hang around in there?
Tough questions, aren’t they? Sobering questions. If they are not sobering, we are not taking seriously enough the call Jesus has placed on our lives to be part of his divine conspiracy to undermine the structures of evil in this world by living our lives the way he would live our lives if he were us! And my friends, I believe we can each examine these questions and come up with answers that are not always gonna be the same. I don’t think there’s any one correct answer to most of these, but don’t you think we ought to be serious about asking the questions and then living out whatever we think the answer is? Isn’t that what would please the heart of God? Non-Christians here tonight, that’s what God calls us to. A mission to undermine evil in this world, not through force but through love, one heart at a time. Jesus didn’t sell religion. He didn’t push a political agenda. He asked people to repent of their sin, embrace a God-soaked, God-centered perspective on life, and join up in his divine conspiracy of love and goodness that goes beyond behavior all the way down to the heart.
I think I have adequately summarized the underlying point of the last few weeks, and it’s time to move on. After telling us who is well off and who is the truly good person, Jesus turned his attention to two barriers that will stand in the way of our developing the kind of heart God wants us to have. These are things that will stand between us and God that will require intentional effort to remove – effort that will probably be ongoing throughout our lives. We’re talking here about the barriers of reputation and wealth.